What to make of VW’s big make meeting – Automotive News

More products are promised, however there’s little information on the strategy to rectify scandal damage

More products are promised, however there’s little information on the strategy to rectify scandal damage

Herbert Diess, VW’s global brand chief, told reporters after the make meeting: “We’re looking forward to actually managing through the crisis then actually relaunching the brand and looking at a more positive future.”

Photo credit: Joe Wilssens


  • More Tiguans, Beetles and Golf SportWagen Alltracks are planned for U.S.
  • Dealers hope to begin settlement talks along with VW as “soon as possible.”
  • No details on diesel fixes, customer remedies

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Automotive News
April 11, 2016 – 12:01 am ET

LAS VEGAS — It was supposed to be the week’s finest prove to in Vegas.

A fireworks display. The long-awaited confrontation between beleaguered U.S. Volks- wagen dealers and besieged factory representatives at the brand’s make meeting throughout the NADA convention.

Volkswagen rolled out its big gun. Global VW brand chief Herbert Diess joined town, and once was the last time such a high-ranking visitor from Wolfsburg showed game an NADA make meeting?

Outside Ballrooms A and B at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino, a large knot of reporters and others waited anxiously for news from behind those big stateroom doors.

But alas, no fireworks.

After 90 minutes, VW dealers calmly filed from their April 2 make meeting along with promises of A lot more cars to jump-begin sales. however they had little Brand-new write-up regarding exactly how VW planned to rectify the damage its emissions scandal has actually done to the brand and its retailers.

Volkswagen dealers prove to identification to enter their make meeting.

Attendees said Diess and various other executives readily available no details regarding technical fixes for the diesel crisis or compensation for consumers, citing a government gag order. Neither did the executives discuss the prospect of settlement talks along with dealers, that a day earlier formed a committee to lead negotiations along with VW on compensation for losses incurred by retailers because the scandal erupted in September. 

“I would certainly title the meeting “We’re functioning on it,'” said Steve Kalafer, owner of the 17-franchise Flemington vehicle & Truck Country, which involves a VW store in Flemington, N.J. 

“There were no promises various other compared to broad statements that “We’re functioning on it’ and “We’re executing our best,'” Kalafer said. “This is nil A lot more compared to A lot more of the same.” 

VW executives did say they would certainly send A lot more products this year in an attempt to advice dealers through just what is shaping up as a rather solid 2016. VW brand sales fell 12.5 percent in the very first quarter. 

Dealers will certainly get hold of an added 20,000 Tiguan compact crossovers and 20,000 added Beetle Classic compact cars this year compared along with just what was planned, said Matthew Welch, general manager of Auburn Volks- wagen near Seattle. Next year, VW will certainly send 75,000 Golf SportWagen Alltracks to the U.S. after shipping 15,000 listed here for its fourth quarter launch, Welch said. 

Dealers said that the 2017 Alltrack commitment was double just what VW had planned. 

Longer term, VW dealers reason annual U.S. sales of about 500,000 by 2017 or 2018 to be the brand’s Brand-new “baseline,” Alan Brown, chairman of the brand’s U.S. dealer council, told reporters after the make meeting. 

VW brand sales last year were merely much less compared to 350,000. 

“That’s where [Volkswagen] AG is going to begin to see wins; that’s where the dealer network will certainly actually begin to see a return on sales,” said Brown, general manager of Lewisville Volkswagen near Dallas. 

Volume targets weren’t discussed in the meeting, however Diess said in a statement to reporters that VW wanted to “grow the volume consistently above past levels” in the U.S. 

“We’re looking forward to actually managing through the crisis then actually relaunching the brand and looking at a more positive future,” Diess told reporters. 

What he meant by “relaunching” is unclear. Michael DiFeo, dealer principal at Linden Volkswagen in Roselle, N.J., said any kind of branding shifts need to reinforce a message of “price-competitive German engineering.” 

Meanwhile, the 6 dealers tapped to negotiate a settlement along with VW chance to start talks as “soon as possible,” said Jason Kuhn, head of the Dealer Investment Committee, an offshoot of the dealer council, and chairman of Kuhn Automotive Group in Tampa, Fla. 

The group was formed to seek compensation for losses incurred by dealers and reduce the risk that breakaway dealers will certainly sue VW.  

On Wednesday, April 6, Napleton Automotive Group broke rank along with dealer council leaders and sued VW on behalf of its 3 VW dealerships. The suit, which seeks class action status, alleges VW defrauded dealers by rigging diesel vehicles and likewise claims VW violated various state and federal laws created to protect dealers.

You can easily reach Ryan Beene at rbeene@crain.com. — Follow Ryan on Twitter